The body consisted of three commissioners, one from each of the state's three "Grand Divisions" (East, Middle, and West Tennessee). While one member of the body was required to be from each Grand Division, each was elected on a statewide basis to staggered six-year terms, resulting in the election of one commissioner in each even-numbered year. This body was somewhat less powerful than some similar bodies in most other states in that, with the exception of the Kingsport area, it had no jurisdiction over electric rates since the vast majority of the state received its power from the Tennessee Valley Authority, which as part of the federal government was not subject to state regulation.
Once the Tennessee Supreme Court was changed to being confirmed by a yes-no vote (the "Modified Missouri Plan" or "Tennessee Plan") rather than being chosen by an actual election, the PSC members became the only government officials in Tennessee other than governor who were elected statewide. During the entire life of the body, all of its members were Democrats. The process was notoriously tainted by allegations of corruption. The general public showed very little interest in the office, despite its potential for considerable impact on their daily lives, with total votes cast in races for the office often amounting only to two-thirds or less of the numbers cast for governor, senator, or President in the same election, and most people largely or entirely unaware of the duties and functions of the commission. Nearly all campaign donations came from the industries which were regulated by the PSC, their representatives, and persons involved with them. No one was ever elected to higher office from the Tennessee Public Service Commission, although such attempts were occasionally made.
Election-related scandals and charges of favoritism, together with the fact that no Republican was ever elected to the office of Public Service Commissioner, led the administration of Governor Don Sundquist to move to abolish the office in 1995. The Tennessee General Assembly acted that year to abolish the Public Service Commission, replacing it with the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, consisting of three members, with one member each appointed by the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. The Public Service Commission ceased operation on June 30, 1996, and the Regulatory Authority began operation the following day. Truckers association, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) prevailed in court against the unscrupulous practices of the TPSC.
Tenn. Senate lets Bell-cable deal slide. (American Telephone and Telegraph Co.; Tennessee Cable Television Association)
Apr 04, 1994; NASHVILLE, TENN. -- A state Senate committee passed over an opportunity to question members of the Tennessee Public Service...